PhD Student Testimonials

Luke Munford - Driving My Life Away? Essays examining the impact of commuting on income and well-being

Photo of Luke MunfordWhy did you choose to study your PhD in the Department of Economics at the University of Sheffield?

I had previously studied for both undergraduate (BSc Economics and Mathematics) and postgraduate taught (MSc Economics and Health Economics) degrees at the Department of Economics at the University of Sheffield. During this time I became aware of the comparative strengths of the Department, and the research areas of the members of staff. These comparative strengths and research agendas coupled up perfectly to my proposed PhD research.

During my earlier studies, I also became aware of how friendly and approachable all of the staff at the Department were – both academic and non-academic support staff.

What interested you about your particular area of study and your thesis?

I was interested in applying the economic and econometric principles and techniques I had been introduced to during earlier study to real world, everyday problems.

For example, commuting time is an increasing component of the working day, with many individuals spending over an hour per day travelling between home and work. Despite commuting times continuing to increase, there was surprisingly little known about how they affected income and health and well-being. As such, I decided to investigate the possible costs and benefits associated with commuting behaviour for working individuals in the UK.

What do you think of the research environment in the Department of Economics?

The research environment at the Department is incredibly conducive to producing high quality PhD research. For example, there are weekly internal and external seminars, so PhD students are kept up to date with continual developments within the field of economics. The external seminar series ensures students are aware of the research of academics from other universities throughout the UK, and overseas. These insights can be very useful for shaping your own research questions and agendas.

Also, the facilities provided are brilliant. The Information Commons hold a large selection of relevant books, ranging from the classics to the contemporary up-to-date texts in economics. In the Department, PhD students are made to feel ‘at home’ by being provided with their own desk and PC, as well as access to all the necessary software to allow them to complete their proposed research.

What do you think about the support you received from your supervisors?

The supervision I received was brilliant. Both of my supervisors were always incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the whole duration of my PhD. Their doors were always open, such that I could pop-in and ask them questions, and they always answered - no matter how trivial the question was!

Although my PhD is now complete, I still collaborate with my supervisors, and still thoroughly enjoy working with them.

What are you doing you have now?

I now work at the Manchester Centre for Health Economics at the University of Manchester. I use secondary data to investigate what influences an individual’s stocks of health and well-being.

I use very similar econometric methods to those used during my PhD. Also, the training provided as part of my PhD (such as how to efficiently use Stata) has proved to be invaluable to me. I would not be able to do the job I currently do if I hadn’t completed my PhD in Economics from the University of Sheffield.